Youngster Challenges City Officials To Sleep Outside With Him For Two Nights

Apr 18, 2014

An unexpected voice has come forward advocating for the homeless in Eugene. 10 year old cancer survivor Keegan Keppner has spent the last 4 months trying to change the way people treat those with no place to sleep. He's met with legislators and Governor John Kitzhaber. Now, Keegan is challenging members of the Eugene City Council to join him for a "sleepover" of sorts. KLCC's Tiffany Eckert spoke with the youngster about his unique proposal.

Keegan: "I'm gonna got to Mr. Ruiz…uh…where is he at dad?"

Ten year old Keegan Keppner and his step dad Steve Magray in the KLCC studios.
Credit Tiffany Eckert

As it turns out, the City Manager John Ruiz's office is just down the street from KLCC.

Keegan: "I'm gonna go see Mr. Ruiz and see if he's gonna accept my challenge. And if he mostly I'll let the whole world know. And, after that we're gonna go find a safe place to sleep."

Keegan says he thinks city officials should know first hand what it feels like to sleep on the streets. Then, he says, they might know the best way to help.

Keegan plans to sleep out with his dad and a number of homeless advocates he's befriended. The youngster says he's not worried about police bothering them.   

The ten year old has been treated for hydrocephalus and a brain tumor. Keegan is currently considered in remission.

When Keegan was two, Steve Magray became his step dad. In the last year, they've had many conversations and lessons about homelessness. When Keegan wanted to take up the issue personally, Magray says he completely supported him.

Reporter: "How do you feel about this kid. Can you measure it, how proud you are?"

You can not put into any words what my so is doing, the challenges he's faced. He challenges me as a father figure everyday. And I can't tell you how much I've learned from this young man's compassion, abilities, drive and desire. I just can't say enough for him. I really can't."

Reporter: "And what do you think about your dad?"

Keegan:"He's a pretty cool dad."